Sunday, 29 June 2008 00:00

Introduction to The Long Reach of Your Speech

Proverbs 12:18 (ESV)

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 25:11 (ESV)

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

This morning we begin a series on the effect our words have on the people around us. It is, in essence, a series on controlling one's tongue. We are going to divide the series into two eight- week segments, based upon a division of speech God places within the Bible.

  1. Reckless words are like Pierces of Swords (Proverbs 12:18)
    "There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts." This is the person who either does not think about what he is saying and slashes others, or other times in a cold, calculating rage, thrusts the sword of speech at an opponent to utterly destroy them.
    The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting others in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing, back- biting, and the pleasures of power and hatred. For there are two things inside of me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
    1. Reckless words are only symptoms of a diseased soul.
      "With our speech we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brother, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring bring forth from the same opening fresh and salt water?" (James 3:9-11).
    2. Reckless words are only attempts at relieving personal pain.
      As a soldier bears a sword in combat to defeat an enemy, so too, a human will wield his tongue in an attempt to protect himself from wounds of the soul.
    3. Reckless words are classified in Scripture as specific sins.
      Proud words (Daniel 4:28-35); gossip words (I Timothy 5:12); lying words (Psalm 109); vulgar words (Ephesians 5:3-5); destructive words (James 3:2-12); mischievous and wicked words (Psalm 10:7); backbiting words (Proverbs 25:23); flattering words (Psalm 5:8-9).
  2. Aptly spoken words are like Apples of Gold (Proverbs 25:11).
    "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." The Hebrew word translated "apples" is the word jewelry. Speech that is well thought through, patient in delivery, and designed for the purpose of the other person's ultimate good is like a piece of gold jewelry encased in silver. It's valuable, beautiful, and memorable.

    Notice the contrast the Bible makes between "rash words" and "aptly spoken words." The exact same words may be used by two different people, with one saying them rashly and the other saying them aptly. What differs? The heart behind the speech.

    1. Aptly spoken words come from a heart touched by God's grace.
      How can I destroy another person when God, who could destroy m, edifies me?
    2. Aptly spoken words come from a heart that finds healing in God alone.
      When I speak rashly, I am revealing the pain of my own dissatisfaction with God.
    3. Aptly spoken words ultimately have the good of the other person in focus.

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